My Regional Odyssey: East Regional

The East Regional shook out just as many thought it would. And then it didn’t.
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Mat Fraser is good at CrossFit.

This statement is not earth shattering to anyone who knows anything about CrossFit. Going in, my assumption was that it would be Mat Fraser, then we would just see how the other four spots shook out.

My assumption was completely correct.

How the other spots ended up sussing themselves out was very fun to watch. I’m a big Austin Malleolo and Spencer Hendel fan from way back, and I love Daniel Tyminski’s style and personality. The younger French-Canadian athletes were the real wild cards for me as we descended on Hartford, Connecticut, like a wave of fitness. For the most part, the men’s side of things shook out like I thought it was going to.

Michele Letendre was the top female athlete from the word go and veteran Dani Horan and last year’s Games rookie Kelley Jackson (a transplant from the North Central) took two of the other spots. With them will be two rookies (but more on that later).

On the team side, the biggest drama was centered around whether CrossFit New England would be only the second affiliate in Games’ history to ever send two teams (CrossFit UTE did it in 2013).

Short version . . . they didn’t.

But instead of giving a replay of stuff that you could just watch on YouTube or read about on games.crossfit.com, I thought I’d focus on some other tidbits and factoids about my journey to watch competitive exercising in the Northeast.

This was my first time witnessing CrossFit on ice. The XL Center is home to a lot of sports teams, including the 2015 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball champion UConn Huskies. Years ago, the venue served as the home of the Hartford Whalers of the NHL, and the minor league Hartford Wolf Pack still play there. Because of that, the flooring for the East Regional was just secured on top of the active ice rink, thus creating CrossFit on ice (in a very literal way).

Cody Mooney and Kari Pearce were probably the best stories that very few people were talking about but the ones that I believe they’ll be talking about for years to come. Mooney, a 20-year-old from Maine, was in the running to qualify for the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games. He tragically struggled in the seventh and final event and missed his chance by taking a 34th-place finish to end his weekend. From what I saw of this kid, he’s a definite contender for a spot on the podium next year.

Pearce is one of those Regional anomalies, meaning, she’s an athlete who came into the Regional in 20th place or lower and ended up qualifying for the Games. (See Cody Anderson circa 2014.) It was the post-Event 7 interview with Nikki Brazier when the jaw-dropping fact of the weekend was unleashed: She just started CrossFit in November. Having a background in powerlifting and gymnastics, some friend kept bugging her to try CrossFit and do the Open, so she gave it a shot, basically learning as she went. No big deal, she just notched two event wins and qualified for the CrossFit Games in her first attempt.

Hartford is a great little city with some awesome shops and places to eat, and the experience was incredible to behold. Week’s one and two have been jampacked with great athletes and great action. Very excited to see what week three will have in store from me . . . in chilly Copenhagen, Denmark.

What have you liked the most about the first two weeks of the CrossFit Regionals? What are you looking forward to seeing in week three?

Stay on the Grind.